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Fire On The Horizon: The Untold Story Of The Gulf Oil Disaster

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  304 ratings  ·  40 reviews

A real-life thriller in the tradition of The Perfect Storm

In the spring of 2010 the world watched for weeks as more than 200 million gallons of crude oil billowed from a hole three miles deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Warnings of various and imminent environmental consequences dominated the news. Deepwater drilling—largely ignored or misunderstood to that point—exploded

Hardcover, 270 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Harper (first published February 11th 2011)
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Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
X-Posted @ Noladishu:


It's about 2 years since everyone was glued to their TV's watching ROV's try and plug a hole in the bottom of the sea. Since then, numerous books have been published chronicling the explosion and the spill. Here are just a few writups of the multitude of books:

9 Books - LA Times

Publishers have no shortage of books - NY Times

In Book Form - MoJo

Each book focuses on a slightly different aspect of the disaster. After reading a
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
What often seemed forgotten were the eleven men who lost their lives during the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon. In “Fire on the Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster”, authors John Konrad and Tom Shroder make sure their stories, as well as the stories of the survivors, are told.

Konrad, an oil rig captain, worked for Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon, and knew many of the people who worked on Horizon. His blog,, was an immediate source of inform
Ryan Erickson
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I finished reading Fire on the Horizon last night and in my attempt to sum up the events surrounding the sinking of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon I’ve chosen “complicated.” Don’t read that as my take on the book itself; no, this single word is aimed at undertaking the nearly impossible task of drilling some 3+ miles under the sea floor looking for oil all without “something” going wrong.

Fire on the Horizon is an awesome journey following the birth, and eventual death, of the oil rig Deepwate
Johnny Johnsen
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
For anyone that work in the oil and gas industry, I think this book will be more than interesting.
Thanks to the fantastic gCaptain for letting me know about this book.
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
This book had some very definite pros & cons. While the author was very obviously highly educated on the topic & had put in A TON of in-depth research, I found that some explanations of parts & how they worked were a bit long-winded, especially when it came to how important those detailed descriptions were to my understanding of what happened aboard the Event Horizon.

This story, like the other nonfiction book I've read this year, was super dedicated to sharing every detail, even when the details
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing! I picked it up with the wary sense that it could be a bit dry, but man, was I pleasantly surprised! I tore through it in two nights, staying up much later than I should have because I just couldn't put it down.

I was drawn to the book with the voyeuristic intention of reading an insider's account of the gulf oil disaster, but came away with so much more. Konrad and Shroder have a unique ability to explain complex technical information in a way that is not only understandable
Marty Greenwell
May 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sebastian Junger of the Perfect Storm really liked it. It reads like a novel but you know the disastrous end. It doesn't preach about who is responsible but subtly points the finger at BP for wanting to finish out the tough well and save money with Transocean, the rig operator doing somwehat the same. It's a story of regular smart guys following procedure but bending analysis and rules to what they want the outcome to be. It's the story of the lives of several members of the crew from the SUNY M ...more
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great book very imformative, I learned things about oil drilling that I had no idea about. Also details the lives of the drillers that lost their life's, makes them human instead of just a number or a statistic.
Marcia Konrad
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully thrilling and informative. A must read!
Kurt Schwehr
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A bit hard for me to read because I was drafted into working on the oil spill, but a great book.
Jason Morrison
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Having seen the movie Deepwater Horizon a couple of times, I became curious about how much the actual events in the movie were truly what happened or not during the BP oil spill back in 2010.

I was expecting a book that started and stopped when the movie did, but I was pleasantly surprised that nearly the first half of the book was spent setting up all of the failures that ultimately led to the disaster.

Sadly, a lot of the detailed research and explanation as to how the rig functioned was over my
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a good book overall, but I have two non-trivial complaints.

1) While the book has a photographic insert, most of the photos are crew pictures, or shots of the rig on fire. This was a book that desperately cried out for frequent illustrations to clarify some of the activities being described in the text. The author makes a good effort, but some of well construction operations just aren't clearly conveyed in description, making it hard to understand what's happening.

2) While the title of t
Sue-Lynn Voigt
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is something I usually do not read. But I enjoyed it, the book does get a bit bogged down in technical passages near the end. I wish there been an addition to the book (written in 2011) as to how the survivors and those left behind are doing now.

This book hit a heart string with me. Being from Louisiana and many high school and college friends worked as roughnecks summers and between school. Glad I read it.
Vs Parani
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
More than just a narration of events. It's about decision making in an unstable environment, often with limited information, and the well intentioned people who make them.

The combined experience and insights of authors Captain John Konrad and Tom Shroder make it a compelling read.

The complete book review can be found here:
alphonse p guardino
Found the book very readable, and a good mix of the experiences of a number of those involved and the technical aspects of offshore oil drilling.

The print edition was not available, so I read the Kindle version. Unfortunately that made the book’s illustrations near impossible to see well (not the authors’ fault!). The Internet filled in that gap for me.
Toni Salyers
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Informative and heartbreaking

I loved this book more than the movie because the author included a great many details and made clear exactly what happened in the Horizon. A great read
Troy Ward
Not bad

Not a bad book. A lot of detail leading up to the incident (although a little technical at times) but surprisingly little about the incident and recovery itself.
Philip Hollenback
I didn't bother to check, but I assume this book was the basis of the movie Deepwater Horizon. If you liked the movie, you will like the book. There's definitely more personal drama in this book than technical detail.
Gregg Sapp
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
I recently wrote a comparative review of six recent books that were about British Petroleum's Deep Water Horizon blowout and the resulting oil spill tragedy. Among them, this book is my most highly recommended for a number of reasons. First, it is written by an author who worked on offshore oil rigs, and who personally knew many of the people on the DeepWater Horizon. He captures the culture and technology of the roughnecks in a vivid, empathetic way. Second, although other books do a more thoro ...more
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent introduction to off shore drilling rigs and the process. Only the last few chapters deal with the Deep Water Horizon/Macondo incident specifically but more than sufficient to leave the reader with the impression that self-regulation and oversight of environmentally sensitive operations such as this is not in the public interest. The book clearly demonstrates the industry's emphasis (and BP's in particular)on bottom line profit to the detriment of safety and good practice. (an emphasis ...more
Apr 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I read this because, although I have been surrounded by news of the BP oil spill due to my location in Louisiana, I have never read a start to finish account of the whys and hows of this disaster.

It was very readable, and was a very thorough start-to-finish account, starting with the building of the Horizon rig in Korea, and continuing up through the explosions and rescue of the survivors. The epilogue finishes off the biographies of a few of the main characters in the book.

The end of the book
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
First off, Keeping this book a neutral re-telling is a large challenge. I do think the author mostly succeeded by focusing on the people working on the rig and their lives. In that sense the book was more a team biography than an analysis of what happened before and after the disaster.

I would have enjoyed a few extra chapters on the cleanup and an insiders view on the learnings from the disaster.

If I may attempt to summarise the last topic. Disaster doesn't strike because people get the complic
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
After seeing the movie Deepwater Horizon, I wanted to delve further into the story of the disaster. John Konrad's book is well written (it's co-authored by a professional journalist), exploring the human stories of those who worked and lived onboard the Horizon as well as the technical end of deepwater oil drilling. The latter is often explained in great detail; the accompanying photo section includes diagrams that help give a rough idea of the incredible complexity involved. There is a slew of ...more
Nguyen Hai
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
when I bought the book, I expected it to be a smt full of technical detail about the worst environmental disaster. However, what I got was a story, a good story about the life of all the people on board the Horizon. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed at first but then I realized the same thing that the author has shown us in the end: what we will all remember about this disaster is its effect on environment, we will all forget about the Horizon's crew and their family, how their life have ch ...more
Jeremy Hopper
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Good book, spends a lot of time on the development and construction of the rig itself and some of the crew that were later involved in the blowout. I did feel that the book could have delved more in to the technical side of deepwater drilling and the engineering and science behind what differentiates a good well vs bad. It was also thin on the technical details on the troubles at the Macando site. Still waiting on a definitive book to be written about this disaster.
Jun 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Learned a bit about off-shore drilling, fairly well presented for the layman, but too much time before the dramatic events, and you almost got the feeling that the researchers did this book on the fly, as it wasn't as well detailed in covering all of what happened aboard the rig, or really dealt evenly with all the participants. . .almost as if this project was rushed.
Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: couldnt-finish
This is fascinating and i got about 1/2 way through but the engineering side of the rig repairs and daily goings on became too intense for me to understand. Seriously technical, this book does succeed in explaining how completely complex oil drilling in the ocean really is.
Trey Palmer
Aug 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great account of the disaster from the perspective of the men who dealt with it most immediately: the personnel aboard the Deepwater Horizon when the well blew. Chronicles the chain of events aboard the rig and in the boardroom leading to the spectacular failure of the Macondo well.
Brian Moore
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very informative insider's account of the events leading up to the Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Best part was getting to know the people, but if you don't like technical details of technology, skip it.
Jan 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I learned a lot, but not enough. Not the fault of the book, which was about how and why it happened in the first place and extremely well done at that. Now waiting to see the new documentary, The Great Invisible to learn more about this incident and it's repercussions.
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John Konrad is a former U.S. Merchant Marine captain who has sailed around the world aboard some the world's largest ships. He is the founder and CEO of gCaptain, the world's most visited maritime news website.

John Konrad is the author of Fire on the Horizon The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster, which chronicles the initial construction, crewmembers' existence, and eventual disaster aboard th

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